During July, there will be several major astronomical events that you cannot miss. This month we’ll enjoy a partial solar eclipse, the longest total lunar eclipse of the century, Mars in opposition, and a meteor shower, and, on the last day of July, we’ll witness the Red Planet getting as closest as possible to the Earth.
Partial solar eclipse
On July 13th, a partial solar eclipse will take place almost entirely over open water. This partial solar eclipse will pass briefly over the illuminated edge of Antarctica, just south of Australia. Observers off the southern coasts of Australia and New Zealand may shortly witness the eclipse.
The longest total lunar eclipse of the century
Two events will take place on July 27th, a total lunar eclipse when the Moon will be illuminated in red, an effect caused by the Sun’s rays as they pass through the Earth’s atmosphere and reflects off of it.
The total phase of this Blood Moon eclipse will last 1 hour and 43 minutes. From start to finish, the most mediatized of all the major astronomical events of this month will last almost 4 hours. The lucky ones will be the observers in Europe, Africa, and much of Asia.
Mars in opposition
On the same date, July 27th, Mars will be considerably lit up in the skies, eclipsing Jupiter and rising in rank as the fourth brightest object in the sky. Mars’ last opposition happened on May 22nd, 2016.
The 2018 opposition will not be ordinary. Astronomers call it perihelion opposition because it also coincides with the perihelion of the Red Planet, the point in Mars’ orbit when it is closest to the Sun.
Delta Aquarid meteor shower
Also among the five major astronomical events of this month, between July 28th and 29th, there will be the Delta Aquarid meteor shower, caused by the remains of the Marsden and Kracht comets, which will send up to 20 meteors per hour in the Earth’s atmosphere.
The best time to observe them is in the hours between midnight and dawn, around 2 or 3 in the morning, in a dark sky, without the moonlight.
Mars and the Earth are getting closer
On July 31st, Mars will be at only 57.6 million kilometers away from Earth, its closest point to our planet in its orbit around the Sun. By the end of July, it will be at its brightest point since 2003, when Mars got the closest to the Earth in about 60,000 years.
These major astronomical events of July are quite exciting and rare, so don’t miss the chance to observe them.